Monday 26 October 2020

Neolithic Crop Marking on South Field, Eton Wick.

South Field - Courtesy of Google Map

In 1984 an archaeological dig and field walk led by Steven Ford was undertaken to investigate an area of crop markings that became visible in Eton Wick's South Field on aerial photographs taken in May 1976. These crop markings are currently visible on Google Maps satellite view.

The summary of the report about the excavation that was published in the Berkshire Archeological Journal, Volume 74, 1991-3 states;

Six trial trenches were excavated across various cropmarks in 1984-5. A ditch terminal of a Neolithic causewayed enclosure, Late Bronze Age ditches, and a probable Late Iron Age enclosure were identified, along with another enclosure of prehistoric date. 

 Site map courtesy of the Berkshire Archeological Journal

Artefacts recovered included pottery shards, flints and animal bones including an antler comb.

The discovery of a Neolithic community near the north bank of the River Thames revealed that Eton Wick has a history that dates back over 5,500 years!

The full report can be read on the Archaeology Data Service website. 

Historic England's PastScape website also has information on the causewayed enclosure at Eton Wick.

Towards a New Stone Age: aspects of the Neolithic in south-east England. This book places the site at South Field, Eton Wick in a broader context was published by the Council for British Archaeology in 2004 edited by Jonathan Cotton and David Field.

Thursday 22 October 2020

World War 2 Eighty Years On - October 1940

Air activity during September increased the frequency of daytime alerts for the district followed by an increased number of high explosive bombs being dropped.

Parents were concerned for the safety of their children and complained bitterly to the Eton UDC about the provision of shelters for the school. The Council made another strong   appeal to the Bucks Education authority, also to the Secretary for Education to remedy the situation. Both authorities replied that it was impossible to provide shelters for Eton Wick schools at this time, but it would be done as soon as possible. With the view to erecting air raid shelters an architect surveyed the school building but months were to elapse before shelters in the Wick were sanctioned and completed.

A canvas of Eton Wick householders resulted in 57 applications for Anderson or Morrison shelters. Eventually the Surveyor reported that sanction had been obtained from the Ministry for the erection of 48 and 24-person communal shelters at the following sites.

Sheepcote Road                                             one for 24 persons

The Walk                                                         one for 48 persons, one for 24 persons

Common Road                                                one for 48 persons

Leeson Gardens                                              one for 24 persons

Alma Road                                                       four for 24 persons

Northfield Road                                                two for 24 persons

Air raid shelters for Eton were located at:-

The College Arms public house                       80 persons

Barnes Pool                                                    100 persons

Eton College Boat House                                 75 persons

Newlands, High Street, Eton.                           25 persons

Arches of the railway viaduct                           50 persons

The railway viaduct, a half mile from Eton Wick, was not thought to be practicable and was never used by the village school. One hundred and seventeen applications were received by the Eton UDC for help with domestic air raid precautions. Materials were supplied in 58 cases and work was carried out in another 23. At Broken Furlong and Vaughan Gardens it was advised to use the archways through the houses as a communal shelter in each block.

A substantial underground shelter was constructed at Bell Farm, Eton Wick.

Sunday October 6th.

About 4.30 p.m. a German twin engine bomber dived out of the clouds near the Slough Trading Estate and machined-gunned the town in several places. Light ack-ack (40mm Bofors) batteries opened fire as the enemy flying through driving rain South of the Bath Road, passed unharmed through the Balloon Barrage to drop several bombs causing damage to property. There had been several small raids during the day to bomb airfields in Southern England and the intended target was possibly the Hawker Aircraft factory at Langley.

Sunday October 13th.   

Five elderly residents lost their lives and several were injured when two high explosive bombsfell on Brook Path, Cippenham, demolishing cottages for Aged People.

A clear moonlight night after the fog and rain of the weekend brought 400 German aircraft to bomb London. Enemy aircraft passing over the village drew fire from the surrounding anti-aircraft batteries lasting into the early hours. At 8.30am the sirens again sounded the alert, the all clear sounding at 9.25 am.

Tuesday October 22nd. 

During the evening several bombs fell on Windsor in the vicinity of Peascod Street and the back of W.H. Smith in Thames Street. Later a single bomb fell outside the Princess Christians Nursing Home, Clarence Road causing some   damage. Others fell in the Castle grounds, damaging the Golf course and Cricket ground but no casualties were reported. Manning the guns in defence of the Castle from low flying attack was 121 Independent light ack - ack (LAA) equipped with 40mm Bofors guns. A few of these were mounted on forty-foot-high concrete towers, one of which was located on the Brocas, at Eton. This site quickly saw night action proceeding to shoot down enemy flares dropping over Windsor Castle.  The noise and vibrations from this quick firing gun sent people scurrying to their air raid shelters or under the stairs. Gunner Witt serving on the Brocas site recalled the plight of an elderly lady living close by in Brocas Street, who being very ill, had taken to her bed. The family was virtually waiting for the sad end of the dear lady's life but gunners of 121 battery   apparently applied a better means for a cure than the doctor. The family was virtually waiting for the sad end of the dear lady's life but gunners of 121 battery apparently applied a better means for a cure than the doctor.  On hearing the rapid fire and the commotion that shook the house, the dear lady jumped from her bed and grabbing a bottle of gin, took herself to shelter under the stairs.  A miraculous recovery followed much to the distress of some of her family who evidently found the aged person a trial.

The last days of the month brought less enemy activity over the area due to cloud, rain and fog. Under the cover of bad weather, a lone raider dropped bombs on Dennis Way, Cippenham killing two people, also on the private polo ground of Dedworth Manor killing a pony. Warnings of enemy activity disrupted the Eton Wick school day on nine occasions during October which made the teachers anxious for the safety of the children. There had been no sign of work commencing on shelters so the children stilled practiced the usual precaution of taking shelter under their desk.

Thursday October 31st.

The official end of the Battle of Britain, which lasted 114 days, cost the German losses of 1,733 planes and 3,893 men with RAF Losses of 828 planes and 1007 men. The end of the battle did not solve the social difficulties of the evacuated families; sharing a home with strangers whilst one’s children were billeted elsewhere was a problem. To help with the   situation a centre was set up at the Church Hall, Eton, to give evacuated families somewhere to meet and also give householders a chance to have their home to themselves for a short time. Those who were able, helped with knitting comforts for evacuee and service personnel. Wool was purchased with the money earned from the sale of salvage. The salvage of waste, conducted by Mr Chew with the help of young volunteers, around the village had gone well with the sale of scrap iron, paper, rags and any other commodity worth salvaging realizing a handsome profit. A suggestion of Mrs Chew to use this money to buy wool with which to knit garments for men and women from the village serving in the forces was readily adopted.   A display of posters in the village shops asking for volunteer knitters was organized by Mrs Mead.  Forty-five volunteers   including three Eton Boys signed up to whom £15 was initially allocated to purchase wool. Once a week the Methodist Hall jumped from her bed and grabbing a bottle of gin, took herself to shelter under the stairs. A miraculous recovery followed much to the distress of some of her family who evidently found the aged person a trial. was loaned free of charge for the issue of wool and collection of finished articles. Within the first few months many knitted items were produced and about 100 items, such as scarves, mittens and socks sent to over fifty servicemen in the first few months.  

To raise money for war weapons, great publicity was given to National Savings, a campaign vigorously supported by Eton Wick. The school had a flourishing savings group run by the Head Teacher, Miss Plumridge, which was well supported by the mothers. The Women’s Institute also had a group amongst its members but their committee felt more could be done in the village, so every house was canvassed. Two groups were formed, one run by the Methodist Church and the other by the Women’s Institute.  A third group made up of the school and supported by the evacuated L.C.C. School gave total enrolment of over 300 savers.  Volunteer collectors, braving the winter weather and blackout, called on savers each week with saving stamps, their combined collection averaging of £28 each week.  The school, encouraging pupils and parents to save, collected £10 in the first week and £30 during the following six weeks. Many schemes would materialize to raise money before the conflict was over such as "Wings for Victory" and "War Weapons Week". Introduction of a purchase tax on household goods and clothes at the end of October made little difference to the goods sold by village traders. Other shortages however did effect village trade, namely an acute shortage of coal. The increasing demands of factories for power produced a shortage of supplies to the householder which became evident during the winter months of 1940-41. To help overcome the fuel crisis, men conscripted for military service, were selected by ballot, and sent to work in the coal mines. They became known as Bevin Boys. Coal merchants Albert Dear, Brocas Street, Eton, - William Parrot. 1 Clifton Cottages and Albert Hood, Tilstone Avenue, Eton Wick had difficulty in obtaining supplies and rationed their customers accordingly. When Albert, who went into the army his business was acquired by R. Bond and Sons.

This is an extract from Round and About Eton Wick: 1939 - 1945. The book was researched, written and published in 2001 by John Denham. 

Monday 12 October 2020

Photographic History - Eton Wick Youth Club

The photograph is of the Club's 1948 outing to Margate. In the back row left to right is the Windsorian driver (name unknown), then Harry Wakefield (secretary), Frank Bond and Harry Pearce (committee members), Des Russell, Mrs Pearce, 'Chub' Bennett, Mrs Wakefield, Dennis Phillips, Bill Ingram, Mrs Hall, Ann Bright, Ray Haverly, Sheila Robertson and Sheila Spiers, ?, and Cecil Thorn (committee member). In the front are Alan Smith, 'Cooie' Barton, Mike Thorn, Bob Snaichel, Peter Frost, Phil Harding, John Newport, Eileen Bolton, Vic Merkett and Ray Mumford. The two young girls on the left are unidentified, the two on the right are Monica Pearce and Julie Wakefield. 

Eton Wick Youth Club members cutting logs for the aged in 1956. Sawing logs: Geoff Pardoe, Mike Knight, and sitting on the timber is John Alder. The axeman is Bill Critchell. 

From 1955, club boys chopped logs and delivered them to the aged. In 1956 alone over 11,000 logs were delivered. Trees available for logging were notified to the club by the Council and Eton College. Club girls supplied the loggers with refreshments. For its services the club was awarded the Hospital Saturday Fund Cup, received a written commendation from the Buckinghamshire County Council Chief Education Officer and was featured in the National Boys Clubs press (see picture). The Club age range at the time was 14 to 21 years. By the end of the 20th century, the age range had reduced considerably, partly by the introduction of a junior club in the 1960s, and partly as a reflections of nationwide social changes. 

The campers are at the back, left to right: Des Russell, Frank Bond, Mick Phillips, Andy Lewis, Terry Harman, Les Hood, John Jeffries, Don Middleton, Cecil Thorn, and George Lund. In the centre row: Tony Clibbon, Ron Branwhite, `Mo' (Maurice) Nicholls, Jacquie Hodge, Val Bailey, Norah Sumner, Joyce Russell, Margaret Wilson, Tony Johnson and Conway Sutton. In the front: Geoff Pardoe, Richard Jordan, Tony Gallop, Terry O'Flaherty and Ian Lewis. 

Eton Wick Youth Club Camp, St Ives 1958. For many years the Youth Club held an annual two week summer camp in Cornwall. The club worked hard to raise funds to buy camping equipment. In these days the cost to the members varied according to age and was typically (rail and coach fares inclusive) from £8 for 15 year olds, rising to £16 for 18 year olds and adult helpers. 

Eton Wick Youth Club Camp 1962 In the back row from the left: Derek Harrison, Ray Emery, Ted Turner*, John Stacey, John Betterton, Richard Jordan, Les Emery, Arthur Gittens, John Newell, Ian Wilson*. John Lee, unidentified*. Centre row Peter Tarrant, unidentified, Colin Harrison, Barry Alder, John Alder, Fraser Hatch, John Durbin, Jim Alder, Frank Ormond, Willy Welford, unidentified*, unidentified*, John Gittens, Frank Bond, Mick Bell. Seated in the front: Nancy Sharp, Christine Drewett, Susan Miller, Carol Cullum, Caroline Miller, Susan Jordan, Jennifer Paintin, Margaret Wilson, Joyce and Des Russell with their son Ian. 

The photograph opposite was taken at the popular club camp site on John and Kitty Roger's 'Hellesveor' Farm, St Ives, Cornwall. Although only four years after the 1958 club camp photograph shown elsewhere, there is virtually a new 'generation' of members. Those marked with an asterisk * are members of Denham Youth Club, who joined in several annual camps as for a time, Frank Bond was also the Club Leader at Denham. A few years after this photo, Derek Harrison with his family ran a restaurant and fish and chip bar at the sea front in nearby Perranporth; elder brother Colin emigrated to South Africa. 

Eton Wickers may remember Ian Wilson and Ted Turner (Denham members), Ian worked in the Bond's greengrocery shop in Eton Wick, subsequently becoming manager of one of their other shops; Ted became owner of KBG Engineering in Alma Road. Richard Jordan and sister Susan emigrated to New Zealand, and John Gittens to Canada. 

Christine Drewett and Les Emery, John Betterton and Nancy Sharp, and Colin Harrison and Margaret Wilson (daughter of Councillor Ivy Wilson, no relation to Ian Wilson) subsequently became partners in marriage. 

It is noticeable how many Eton and Eton Wick family names of the 19th century are still represented in this 1962 photograph. (There are seven surnames that appear in the 19th century census records and three in the 1901 and 1911 census or the 1939 Register)

Many of the village's former teenagers from the 1950s onwards will have happy memories of their days as members of the Youth Club. The club also attracted members from surrounding towns and villages. Quite a number of members in fact went on to marry their fellow club members. In this picture, Frank Bond, club leader from 1950 to 1961 and chairman for many years after that, receives a presentation to mark his retirement as chairman from Chris Foreman and Val Chamberlain (to become future married partners). In the centre is Mike Newlands, former leader and new chairman. To the right of Frank is Patron and former chairman Jim Ireland and club member turned leader, Geoff Low. 

From left to right are Frank Bond, Richard and Carol, Mike Newland, John Lovell, Geoff Low and on the right, the then current leader, by this time paid and appointed by the County. 

There are six leaders or former leaders of Eton Wick Youth Club in this photograph, taken c1987 at a reunion when former club members, ex-leader and marriage partners Richard and Carol (née Chamberlain) Jordan returned from New Zealand for a holiday. After being a club member in the 1950s, Richard took on the leadership of the club and later became a full time youth worker at the Hook, Chessington Youth Club before emigrating to New Zealand in the 1970s where he initially continued with his full time youth work. 

This article was first published in A Pictorial History of Eton Wick & Eton.

You can find other articles on Eton Wick History that mention the Youth Club by clicking on this link.

If you were a member of the Eton Wick Youth Club please share your memories in the comment box below.

Monday 5 October 2020

The Eton Wick Newsletter - August 2018 - `Our Village' Magazine


Village roads, tracks and vehicles

Increasingly it seems our public services are finding it difficult to meet their purpose. Almost daily our so-called news is not in any way news, but a demand for more money to be poured into Health Services, Schools, Police, rail and roads. In many respects I think we are fortunate in Eton Wick: we are still surrounded by countryside; have pleasant walks; and still within a convenient distance of towns, rail stations and airports. At times there is a traffic build-up along the road to Eton, which is probably more of a nuisance to Eton than to the village.

There had been rumoured talk, and maybe suggested plans, to divert some of this traffic away from Eton College, but probably nothing more than wishful thinking at present. If this did become a reality I personally think it could be detrimental to Eton Wick, as more 'through traffic' would consider today's present deterrent of congestion through Eton to be no longer relevant. Be that as it may, the future is not ours to see, and at my age not to get bothered about. A bit like the bungalow in Sheepcote Road named 'Byjia' meaning "B.... you Jack, I'm alright!

Let us then look back on early Eton Wick roads. I know of very little written about them, so using what we know, and a common sense of deductions, we can conclude that roads locally often originated as tracks, were often very muddy, and at best used by pedestrians, horse riders and horse traffic — most frequently farm carts. There were four of these routes East to West and West to East, and three others North to South and vice versa. Additionally, there were probably two others; the present named Moores Lane to Cippenham, and another from the Great Common to Chalvey. The through roads East to West were our present main road variously known as the Eton Wick Road, or the Dorney Road (now B3026).

Secondly, we have the track Dr. Judith Hunter described as the King's Highway. Undoubtedly old, this track is from the village hall, then south past Hayward Mead houses, past the Scout H.Q. and on past Cuckoo Weir; Eton's Meadow Lane; and terminates at Brocas Street for Windsor Bridge. Interestingly about 200 —300 metres from the village hall this track is diagonally met by another track that starts in Boveney Village, passing north of Boveney Lock and crossing the Boveney Ditch at Splash Bridge, then on to join with the aforementioned South Field track. Given the age of Boveney, this route to town may well be our oldest. In the 20th Century this was indeed a 'splash bridge': horses or horse vehicles would be led through the stream, and rider or carter could hold the bridle and keep control while walking across the plank himself. Many villages will remember floods sweeping away the plank crossing, and today's bridge replacing it in 1993. 

Our third west to east road was perhaps only ever much used by farmers, and like the South Field track just mentioned was never given a modern road surface;. destined for ever to be a relic of bygone times, being then seasonally dusty, muddy and very rural. Number three then is 'Inner Wards' and extends from Common Road, north of the Common stream, to Eton College's Common Lane. This route to town would have served Saddock and Manor Farms, and of course give access to the open land between Eton Wick and Chalvey. 

The fourth west to east road is quite different, as it is not a through road, but a village road along which most of the early village was developed for homes. This of course is Common Road, probably only 600 to 800 metres in total length and for much of its length immediately south of the Common stream, which undoubtedly accounted for the early near development. From the west of the Great Common (narrow strip) it extends along the Common for about 200 metres and then turns north, terminating at Little Common. (Little Common is next to the motor museum). Any other east west roads in the village are less than 130 years old and are estate or housing access roads. 

The oldest north/south roads were probably all access roads for the local farms. The Common Road (west), formerly Brown's Lane, gave access for Dairy Farm (formerly Wick Farm) to the B3026. Bell Lane gave access to Bell Farm, which incidentally also connected with the start of the old King's Highway track. Some maps show, at the junction of Bell Lane and the B3026, the road was gated. Presumably as a precaution preventing cattle straying. The third north/south road was Sheepcote Road. This was gated at the north/Common end. I remember Sheepcote Road as a straight and very muddy track with a single row of five or six terraced houses appropriately named Castle View Terrace. There were allotments opposite the houses, and below the school. No flats or bungalows. This was truly a farmer's track from `Saddocks', 'Manor' and 'Little Common.' The 'Walk' road was probably not developed until mid 1800's, from a foot track used to access the Greyhound pub. Other village roads were made when the area was developed for homes, and like so many places never built to cope with motor traffic on today's scale. 

How wrong we are when we say that nothing changes. As technical boffins are busily making workers redundant with their ever-advancing automation and robots, concern is at last being expressed for the countless truck and van drivers who may not be needed when driverless vehicles become the norm. Once invented, nothing takes long before it takes over.

In 1907, just 111 years ago, and 25 years after the first motor engine was developed by Benz, villager Ted Woolhouse bought a De Dion car; the first known motor car for Eton Wick. It was quite a year for Ted, believed one of at least four brothers, as in 1907 he opened the village's first cycle shop, using the front room of what is now 56 Eton Wick Road. This was the age of high upright bikes with straight handlebars and carbide lighting. Battery lamps were to come later. Ted assembled Royal Enfield cycles for sale, and with repairs and hiring at two pence an hour, he earned a living until after WW2, over forty years later. This was of course interrupted by at least two years army wartime service, following the Conscription Act of March1916. The first two years of the 1914 - 1918 war produced sufficient voluntary man power. 

Only twelve years after the first car for Eton Wick, the village was petitioning for motor vehicles going through the village to be restricted to 10 miles per hour, and at this same period a huge dump of ex-army war vehicles was created at Slough, on a site later developed as The Trading Estate, forever referred to as 'the dump'. This should not give the impression of considerable car ownership. Not until well into the second half of the 20th Century, and quite forty years later, was this the situation. As an early 1930's schoolboy walking to Eton Porny School we often whipped Meg or Tee Tops along the main road to the rail viaduct, or played 'flick on' with fag cards along the footpath kerbs, and considered the occasional car a nuisance to our games.

Pre WW2 the local 'big day' of the year was the College's 'Fourth of June'. This was the one day when many luxury limousines; often with liveried chauffeurs, parked along the college area roads. That show of splendour has never been equalled since. 

In 1934 my brothers were ball playing along the road close to the 'Three Horse Shoes' pub (now a residence: 'The Shoes' no. 44 Eton Wick Road), when King George V's car drove through the village. Of course it was obliged to stop, on account of my brothers. Before Windsor Bridge was closed to vehicular traffic, in the early 1970's, it was not uncommon for V.I.P's enroute to Windsor to drive through Eton Wick. On this occasion my Mother came in for local tongue wagging, for letting her boys hold up the King. 

It was about this time that families who were lucky enough to own a wireless set (not then known as radios) would tune in to hear Hitler addressing the German nation. None of us understood a word of his speeches, but undeniably there was something riveting about his ravings. At least I thought so, until on one occasion he declared that the day would come when all German families would own a car. At this I thought he must be mad, no working man would ever afford a car. Of course, this prophesy was probably the most accurate thing he did promise. 

A contemporary of Ted Woolhouse was Norman Lane. He too served as a young man in the Great War of 1914-1918. Norman served in the Royal Flying Corp which became the Royal Air Force on April 1st 1918. Wireless sets were not available, or did not exist when that war ended, and in 1923 Norman and Bill Brown (ex-army) assembled a 'cats eye' receiver and claimed it as the first wireless in Eton Wick. Again, in a few years most homes had a wireless; be it second-hand or new, all were big, temperamental, and had a large dry battery and an accumulator battery that was collected weekly for re-charging. If electric radios had been available they would have been useless in Eton Wick until 1949-1954, when the village first had electricity, which slowly became installed in homes.

It would appear that whatever is new soon spreads until everybody attracted to the novelty puts it on the 'must have' list, and in this respect, nothing changes. 

Frank Bond

A portrait of Frank Bond by Ben Gower

First published in Our Village in August 2018

This article was originally published in the Eton Wick Newsletter - Our Village and is republished with the kind permission of the Eton Wick Village Hall Committee. Click here to go to the Collection page.